5 ways to stay positive during difficult times

It’s so important to look after your own mental health and wellbeing, now more than ever as we’re dealing with soaring energy bills, the cost of living crisis, and political turmoil all around the world.

We thought it’d be helpful to put together a few ways we can stay positive and be kind to ourselves during difficult times.

1. What are you grateful for?

During challenging moments in life, it may feel hard to find any positives. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel like there are any - but there always are. Whether it’s the company of your fluffy, faithful companion, the support you have from your family and friends who love and care about you, or perhaps just the little things like being able to cook your favourite meal and enjoy tucking into some much needed comfort food.

2. Learn to let it go

Come to accept the things you can control, and those you cannot. Some of us will find this much harder than others, but if you feel things are getting on top of you, try writing all your worries onto a sheet of paper and organise them into a list of what you can control and what you can’t. This will allow you to focus your time and energy on the things you actually have control over, rather than worrying about things you have no say in.

3. Stay present

Focusing on the here and now can help bring a sense of calm and rebalance to your life. Breathing in for five seconds through the nose, and out for five seconds through the mouth can help calm an anxious mind and a racing heart. Do this for 3-5 minutes or for as long as you feel you need.

If you like this technique and it works well for you, you might want to explore meditation. Meditation can help focus your attention on your senses, such as sight, smell, hear and touch, and again, helps you stay present in the current moment rather than letting your mind run away with you.

Look into apps like Headspace if you’d like to explore this with some more guidance, otherwise there are a wealth of free videos and resources online.

4. Be kind to yourself

If you’re being too hard on yourself, stop and ask yourself, would I say these things to a friend who was struggling? If not, then you should stop treating yourself this way. If you’re having a bad day, a bad couple of days, weeks, or even months. Cut yourself some slack! You’re allowed to feel down, and you don’t always have to snap yourself out of it. It’s good to feel your emotions whole-heartedly to heal yourself and move on when the time is right.

5. Cultivate a positive environment

The things or people you choose to surround yourself with can have a huge impact on your overall outlook. Whether that’s TV, the internet, or friends and colleagues, they all play a role in the environment you’re in.

In order to stay positive, it’s essential that these influences support and lift you up rather than dragging you down. You can ask yourself a few key questions to evaluate your environment:

  • Are there any negative people in your life?
  • Do your news sources focus on negative stories?
  • What messages do the movies you’re watching give?
  • Is your home environment happy and healthy?
  • If not, what steps can you take to manage or change that?

Consider your answers carefully and find ways you can cultivate a positive environment in your life. It’s a lot easier to move through challenging situations when we feel like our support systems have a sound foundation.

Think about how you could spend less time this week on one of those negative sources and slowly minimise your contact with them each week. We understand this isn’t always possible, and it’s important to still stay safe, but reach out to those who can help if you feel you need it.

For further support, please visit Mental Health Foundation.

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